Pawn Sacrifice

Critics Consensus

Anchored by a sensitive performance from Tobey Maguire, Pawn Sacrifice adds another solidly gripping drama to the list of films inspired by chess wiz Bobby Fischer.



Reviews Counted: 109

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User Ratings: 13,484


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Average Rating: 3.5/5

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Movie Info

In a gripping true story set during the height of the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) finds himself caught between two superpowers when he challenges the Soviet Empire. Also starring Liev Schreiber and Peter Sarsgaard, PAWN SACRIFICE chronicles Fischer's terrifying struggles with genius and madness, and the rise and fall of a kid from Brooklyn who captured the imagination of the world. (C) Bleecker Street

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Tobey Maguire
as Bobby Fischer
Peter Sarsgaard
as Father Bill Lombardy
Liev Schreiber
as Boris Spassky
Michael Stuhlbarg
as Paul Marshall
Lily Rabe
as Joan Fischer
Robin Weigert
as Regina Fischer
Edward Zinoviev
as Efrian Geller
Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
as Teenage Bobby Fischer
Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick
as Fitzpatrick-Teenage Bobby Fischer
Aiden Lovekamp
as Young Bobby Fischer
Sophie Nélisse
as Young Joan Fischer
Conrad Pla
as Carmine Nigro
Vitali Makarov
as Ivanovich
Vitali Makarov
as Ivanovich
Brett Watson
as Lothar Schmid
Igor Ovadis
as Russian Bookstore Owner
Bobo Vian
as Bookstore Owner's Wife
Joe Cobden
as Motel Clerk
Brent Skagford
as Businessman (Motel)
John Maclaren
as US Charge d'Affaire Tremblay
Jonathan Dubsky
as Tremblay's Aide
Mark Slacke
as Icelandic Journalist #1
Yanick Bousquet
as Foreign Reporter #1 (French)
Shanugasunder Chetty
as Foreign Reporter #2 (East Indian)
Mohsen ElGharbi
as Foreign Reporter #3 (Dutch)
Andrew Peplowski
as ABC News Anchor
David Pryde
as 50's Reporter
Roc LaFortune
as Official (Soviet Accres.)
Vito DeFilippo
as Russian Opponent (Bulgaria 1967)
Basil McKenna
as Kissing Man
Ellen David
as Party Guest #1 (Fischer Apt.)
Rosa Ruby Kagan
as Party Guest #2 (Fischer Apt.)
Arthur Holden
as Party Guest #3 (Fischer Apt.)
Richard Jutras
as Referee - Santa Monica
Al Goulem
as Reporter #1 (Vancouver)
Carlo Mestroni
as Reporter #2 (Vancouver)
Glen Bowser
as Bus Driver
Zach Fraser
as Long Haired Hippy
Raphael Grosz-Harvey
as Harvey-Donald Byrne
Alexandra VanLoon
as Joan's Daughter
Sam Stone
as Customer - Diner
Matt Keys
as JFK Airport Journalist
Ilia Volok
as KGB Guy
Edward Yankie
as President Nixon
Al Vandecruys
as Arbiter - Bulgaria
Christopher DeCourcy
as Ireland-BBC Anchor
Olga Martchenko
as Woman Speaking Russian
Al Dubois
as NBC Reporter
François Cote
as Marshall Heavy
Marco Verdoni
as Joan's Husband
François Ducharme
as Bent Larsen
Ivan Freud
as Reefer Man
Maurice Demers
as President Brezhnev
Norman Roy
as FBI Agent
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Critic Reviews for Pawn Sacrifice

All Critics (109) | Top Critics (28)

Audience Reviews for Pawn Sacrifice

A fascinating character piece, Pawn Sacrifice looks at the tragedy and genius of chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer. After withdrawing from competitive play American chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer is approached by a lawyer looking to be his backer and to help him to win the world chess championship and a victory for America in the Cold War; however Fischer's eccentricities and neurosis start to get more and more out of control and threaten to destroy everything that he's worked for. Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, and Peter Sarsgaard lead the cast and give incredibly good performances. And director Edward Zwick does an impressive job at depicting Fischer's psychoses through his use of the camera. But the storytelling is a little weak, feeling disjointed and underdeveloped at times. Yet overall Pawn Sacrifice is a gripping tale and a cautionary reminder of the price that often comes with pursuing greatness.

Dann Michalski
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer

It is dull, formulaic and directed in such a mediocre way (hell, even Zwick's sense of geography is terrible) that there is no pleasure in going through this plodding plot so full of clichés and awful dialogue just to finally get to a tense climax that saves the film from being a disaster.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Dull rendition of a troubled man's life.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Pawn Sacrifice presents Bobby Fischer as a most unlikeable individual. He suffers from moods that fly into a rage at the drop of a hat. He avows the Soviets have been cheating by throwing games to create draws. His devotion to the Worldwide Church of God and its radio evangelism is presented as peculiar. He is anti-Semitic, even though he himself is Jewish. When Fischer finally gets to Reykjavik for the World Chess Championship, he makes everyone wait, taking the stage at the very last possible minute for his first game. Then forfeits the second game by not turning up at all. His prima donna behavior escalates with one outlandish demand after another. He complains that the audience and the TV video cameras are too noisy, refusing to continue unless the tournament is moved from a public hall to a private room. Save for a few coughs, the room appears quiet to us. When Fischer threatens to quit, Henry Kissinger calls to offer words of encouragement. The organizers relent anyway, giving into his demands. This doesn't endear Bobby to us. Certainly it isn't necessary to like the central character in order to appreciate a film. Yet we should feel something for this man. The movie entertains in parts but while showing how Bobby Fischer could be a jerk, it neglects to present his humanity. I was captivated during much of Pawn Sacrifice. I wanted to know more about this boy genius, particularly in his early life. It wasn't until the climax that finally I realized that, after getting to know fellow American Bobby Fischer, I found myself rooting for Boris Spassky.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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